Sikh Americans campaign to end racial profiling and protect workplace religious freedom

Two Sikh American organizations are currently engaged in campaigns to help protect the religious freedoms of Sikhs and other minorities in this country from discriminatory practices:

  • SALDEF (Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund) is working for the passage of the federal End Racial Profiling Act.
  • The Sikh Coalition is undertaking a campaign to have the Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012 passed in California.

Both of these organizations are seeking public support to help pass these laws.

The Federal End Racial Profiling Act

According to SALDEF (Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund), racial profiling is “a law enforcement tactic where individuals are treated as suspects based on characteristics unrelated to criminal conduct – such as race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, and perceived immigration status.”

Since last October, SALDEF has been campaigning for the passage of the End Racial Profiling Act (Senate Bill 1670, House bill 3618) and is seeking the public’s support in requesting Senators and House Representatives to co-sponsor the bill.   According to SALDEF:

The End Racial Profiling Act prohibits law enforcement agents and agencies from engaging in racial profiling. It does so by:

  • Requiring federal law enforcement agencies to provide training on racial profiling issues, to have procedures for investigating and responding to complaints of racial profiling and to cease existing practices that permit racial profiling;
  • Supporting law enforcement initiatives that do not result in profiling;
  • Creating privacy protections for individuals whose data is collected; and
  • Allowing an individual who was racially profiled the right to file lawsuits to seek redress.

Sikhs are often targeted and prejudged based on our distinctive appearance, so the passage of the End Racial Profiling Act is very relevant to Sikh Americans. In this regard, SALDEF has set up an easy way on their website to send a request to Senators and House Representative to co-sponsor the bill.

The California Workplace Religious Freedom Act

As mentioned on this blog recently, the Sikh Coalition is leading a campaign in California to have a state bill called The Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012 (AB1964) passed in California’s legislature. This bill, introduced by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, seeks to clarify existing law around workplace religious freedom. According to the Sikh Coalition:

California Sikhs continue to experience job discrimination because of their Sikh articles of faith.  According to a Sikh Coalition report published in 2010, approximately 12% of Sikhs in the San Francisco Bay Area believe that they have experienced job discrimination.  Major law enforcement agencies in California refuse to hire Sikhs.  In addition, loopholes in federal law make Sikhs vulnerable to workplace segregation.

The Sikh Coalition is seeking support from California residents in the campaign to have this legislation passed so that Sikhs and other minorities will be better protected from workplace discrimination:

Labor And Employment
1:30 p.m. – State Capitol, Room 447

One of the unique aspects of AB1964 is that the campaign in support of its passage is being led by a Sikh organization, and this is reflective of the impact that the Workplace Religious Freedom Act will have on California’s Sikhs.

For both of these campaigns, much of what is requested of us will only take a few moments of our time, and so I encourage all Sikhs as well as those who are in support of equality and civil rights to do what they can to support the passage of these legislation.


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